Medina was the last of the seven so-called M-class liners ordered for the P.& O. fleet during the decade prior to the outbreak of the Great War. The order for Medina went to Caird's at Greenock, who had recently completed her sister Malwa, and she was launched on 14th March 1911. Registered at 12,358 tons gross (6,879 net), she measured 625 feet in length with a 63 foot beam and could cruise at 18 knots. With accommodation for 680 passengers in two classes, she was completed in October 1911 just in time to be chartered for a brief spell as a royal yacht. King George V, crowned that June, had decided to go to India for a Coronation Durbar, the first such event in Imperial history at which the reigning monarch was to be present in person. The cultural and political significance of the visit was deemed to be of the greatest importance and, given the size of the royal retinue, it was felt neccessary to charter a suitably prestigious brand-new commercial vessel for the trip as the existing royal yachts were nowhere near large enough.
Thus it was that Medina, sporting a third mast borrowed from P.& O.'s Nanking to carry the Royal Standard, left Portsmouth bound for Bombay on 11th November 1911. With her hull and superstructure painted a distinctive white, Medina proved highly successful in her temporary rôle and, after bringing King George and Queen Mary home again early the following year, was at last ready to take up scheduled sailings. Her first voyage from London to Sydney began on 28th June 1912 but her career was to be short-lived. On 28th April 1917, soon after calling at Plymouth on the last leg of her journey home from India, she was torpedoed and sunk off Start Point, Devon, by the German submarine UB31. Although most of those aboard her were saved, six of Medina's crew lost their lives and her cargo included the baggage and personal effects of Lord Carmichael, the Govenor of Bengal, who had fortunately left the ship at Port Said to come home on the fast cruiser Sheffield.